The San Francisco 49ers might have to consider putting Jerick McKinnon on season-ending IR, as the running back had another injury setback, according to general manager John Lynch.
Well over a year after the 27 year old signed a four-year free-agent deal with the Niners, McKinnon still has yet to take a meaningful snap with his new team. And after tearing his ACL a year ago at this point before the regular season, McKinnon reportedly suffered yet another setback just ahead of San Francisco’s final preseason bout against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.
“Because the situation is up in the air, I’m not going to say a whole lot,” 49ers general manager John Lynch told KNBR 680’s Murph and Mac Show Wednesday morning (h/t 49ers Webzone). “I can tell you that again, yesterday (Tuesday), we brought him out, and it’s a real bummer because he keeps getting to the final step. … We did it a month ago, and we got to that step, and he kind of regressed. And I would say yesterday, we had a similar situation.”
You can listed to the entire interview with Lynch below:
“Just because he’s kind of working through this, we’re working it, I’m going to kind of leave it at that, but yesterday was not encouraging from that standpoint,” Lynch continued. “What that means, we’re not sure yet, and we’re working hard to find that out.”
So, now what for San Francisco?
Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have a few options. The first would be to keep him ready for the 53-man roster for Week 1, perhaps just sidelining him the first few weeks on the weekly inactive list. This would allow McKinnon to return at any point after regaining full health.
There’s also short-term injured reserve, which would mean McKinnon could return at a later point in the season (after a minimum of eight games). In doing so, however, McKinnon would have to be added to the 53-man roster, thereby forcing the Niners to part ways with another player and subjecting him to a potential waiver claim before re-signing him.
San Francisco could also consider placing McKinnon on season-ending IR, which was the same fate he suffered after tearing his ACL just ahead of Week 1 back in 2018 — something openly suggested by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.
As Lynch said, however, the team is looking to gather more information on the situation, which will unquestionably be used to determine how to handle McKinnon’s future.
Earlier this offseason, the Niners inked veteran running back Tevin Coleman to a free-agent deal. At the time, considering McKinnon was poised to return, it seemed rather foolish a move. In the wake of McKinnon’s recent setbacks, however, adding Coleman was easily one of the best acquisitions San Francisco could have made.
Coleman and third-year running back Matt Breida figure to spearhead Shanahan’s efforts on the ground this season.
As far as where McKinnon fits into the grand scheme of things, it’s cloudier now than at any other point during his Niners tenure.